Great American Outdoors Act funds major improvements to Roan Mountain Recreation Area

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 9:27 am

Mars Hill, NC, March 19, 2024—Roan Mountain Recreation Area will undergo a major renovation this summer, funded by the Great American Outdoors Act. 

 The Recreation Area will be closed during the repairs. Crews have started by drilling a new well and replacing the current water distribution system. Plans also include road surface improvement, replacing curbs and fences, rehabilitating picnic sites, replacing flooring in the visitor center, new interpretive signs and repairing damage on the observation decks. The area to be closed includes the rhododendron gardens, Roan high bluff, Cloudland parking area, and Cloudland Trail. Carver’s Gap and the Appalachian Trail will remain open, but there is limited parking at Carver’s Gap. We ask that visitors plan accordingly and contact the District Office (828-689-9694) if they have any questions or visit for alternative hikes. 

District Ranger, Jennifer Barnhart expressed hope for the future of the site for many more generations to experience, “Roan Mountain is one of our most beloved areas and we recognize this closure is a hardship, but the work that needs to be done can’t happen during harsh winter weather. We plan to have everything done by late summer/early fall and we know visitors will appreciate and enjoy the improvements when the site reopens next year.” 

The project was chosen among a select number nationwide to be funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), Legacy Restoration Fund. Enacted into law in 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act provides opportunities for the U.S. Forest Service to make major improvements to existing infrastructure, recreation facilities, public lands access, and land and water conservation.

A portion of the funding and future improvements will be guided by a dedicated collaborative known as the Roan Highlands Visitor Use Management Committee (VUM).  

The VUM was formed to tackle visitor-use challenges like environmental degradation and plan for sustainable use. The group is composed of representatives from Appalachian Trail Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club, Roan Mountain State Park, Friends of Roan Mountain, and local community representatives from North Carolina and Tennessee. Since 2022, the group has collected visitor use data and implemented improvements throughout the Roan Highlands region, with special attention to Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge. 


The Roan Highlands VUM strives to protect high-quality visitor experiences and our natural and cultural resources. The Committee welcomes questions and input to help guide them in meeting their mission. In the future, they hope to expand efforts to include coordinated community advocacy. To learn more about the VUM Committee and receive updates on its work, please visit 

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